Yoga – Meditation – Mindfulness …
keywords and buzzwords that are finding their way into almost all aspects of our lives.
Why is it?
It is my opinion that us humans are looking to increase the value of each experience we have (whether it be at work, home, with friends or family) to satisfy the subconscious drive and desire to answer one of the oldest questions of life: WHY am I here? WHAT is the purpose of life? Yoga, Meditation, and Mindfulness training allow us to peer into lifestyles that innately expose value and inner meaning.
Without allowing ourselves to fall prey to the “paralysis of analysis” by pondering too deep into these questions of “why” or “what”, let us take a moment to explore one of the 4 paths (according to the yogis) that we can cultivate meaning within our lives.
Raja Yoga – the way of the Scientist of Life
Yoga beyond the mat and studio is quite simply structured.
First, we must have a desire to understand and, furthermore, be open and receptive to new knowledge, with flexibility in allowing our belief systems to grow and change. Rigidity only causes us to break.
Second, we embark on the experiment of life by adhering to 10 guidelines that will allow us to operate with our peers and society without causing us mental or emotional injury and also structure from which to grow. Structure is within all aspects of life, from molecules to societies.
The following 10 guidelines should be slowly applied to your everyday life. These teachings are not strictly for yogis that practice on a mat in a studio but rather are accessible to all people of all walks of life. In this way of slowly practicing, we become mindful of ourselves and our environments, cultivating a type of meditative awareness that, with constant practice, will echo within all aspects of our lives.
Non-violence – towards ourselves and others. Reflect on what negatively affects your life, look at what supports and benefits you. By understanding the basics of what harms us and what supports us, we can then relate to the common thread of positive support for all life. Remove harmful thoughts and emotions; remove harmful foods and habits; remove harmful relationships and situations. Cultivate a sense of loving-kindness.
When we lie to ourselves or to others, we are setting up a situation in which pain can result. Cultivating an honest relationship with ourselves is the first step towards living an honest life. Brutal honesty should be avoided, as discretion and awareness of the emotional needs of others is increased.
By knowing what is harmful to us, and having started communicating and living more honestly, we ultimately understand that stealing is harmful to ourselves and others. Instead of taking what is not rightfully our own we instead create our own opportunities for successful and prosperous living.
Self-awareness leads to the uncovering of many truths about our being, one of which the delicate balance of energy. Our minds, bodies, and spirits need adequate rest and nourishment. Spend time watching and observing the various aspects of your being: the body, mind, and soul (or emotional self). Notice how food, physical activity / exercise, and sleep are needed; how our minds need stimulation and rest; how our soul needs expression and incubation. Listen to the rhythm of each part of you and find the balance that supports the conservation of all your energies. Equally, think about the energetic balance in the external world. Conserve water, electricity, and natural resources.
5 Absence of Greed
When we can understand more about the internal equilibrium of our energies, we then can understand that having more of something can upset our balance. Greed stems from a sense of inadequacy or insufficiency. By balancing out our energies we learn to control more of, or put ourselves in better position to receive, the positive outcomes of actions, finding satisfaction within ourselves and being able to provide for ourselves.
6 Cleanliness/ Purity
The sanctity of our bodies and the spaces we surround ourselves with only contributes to the positive expression of ourselves. How many times have we been frustrated by an unkept desk or room, looking for vital paperwork or keys which may lay hidden in cluttered debris? Working to keep our bodies and spaces clean ultimately keeps our minds and emotions clean as well. We show ourselves and those around us that we have respect and integrity.
Life is described in the polarized language of dualism. Things are either good or bad, left or right, up or down. Recognizing the spectrum of (+) positive and (-) negative descriptive language and our (+/-) value association with life’s situations and circumstances prepares us to live in the present moment, rather than in anticipation or fear of the future. Watch your mental and emotional states. Notice the language of the inner self dialogue. See the ebb and flow from between the spectrum of life. Live peacefully knowing that life is constantly changing.
8 Passion and Devotion
What makes you enthusiastic? If you are feeling complacent or lethargic, stir up your motivation by recalling what inspires your life. If you are not sure, take some time to review people, places or things that provide the motivation to be the best you can be. During our childhood we spent countless hours playing within our imagination, being inspired by magical possibilities. Growing up, we were inspired to choose careers and fields of study that remained open with new discoveries to be had. Continue to be inspired daily by cultivating an inner flame of devotion and passion to live life to its fullest.
9 Self-study and Learning
Passion and devotion lead us to new discoveries. The world is full of information that we do not know yet and we, ourselves, are full of skills and strengths still to be developed. Be inspired to learn throughout life.
Knowing of the ebb and flow of life, recognizing the ups and downs, by practicing through trial and error, we learn the most useful skill of all: patient determination.
A gardener can put seeds into ripe and fertile soil, can provide nutrients, water and sunlight. However, the plant will grow and ripen at its own speed and according to its own capacities. Similarly in life, we can provide all the necessary and appropriate actions, yet at some point we must let life’s processes unfold naturally.
If we cannot cultivate this patience then we must return to practice 1-9 more deeply.